An association management company (AMC) can do (almost) literally anything for a client organization, from maintaining records to running everything below the board level. One task many associations and nonprofits consider is having the AMC handle all board relations, i.e., creating all reports, agendas, minutes, and everything else the board needs to be informed, decide, and act.
Let’s review the pros and cons of that course, and a few questions to consider.
Holistic Expertise—An AMC brings expertise to the board that might not be present on staff, especially in volunteer-led organizations. This includes governance expertise but also areas such as expertise in marketing, recruiting, and finance. They also bring a holistic approach to board relations that grows out of their broad experience in all areas of running an association.
Reliability—Volunteer-led organizations depend on staff members that have busy lives. An AMC is contracted to provide the services you need when you need them.
Time Savings—The process of creating packets, agendas, reports, and budgets can be time-consuming, and that’s just part of the board relations process. If an AMC takes that load, board members and staff can spend their time on tasks they are passionate about that more directly benefit the organization and its mission.
Staff Focus—Working on board relations tasks may be completely different from the normal mission-oriented tasks staff or volunteers are focused on. If these are handled by an AMC, their focus remains on that mission.
Duplicated Work or Skills—If your staff has all the ability, time, knowledge, and processes in place to handle board relations smoothly, moving such tasks to an AMC would increase your costs without significant benefit.
Perception of Distance—Staff (and possibly association members) may see the use of an AMC as a layer of insulation between them and the board, rather than a conduit to make their needs and input more prominent. This can lead to morale or operational issues.
These additional items can help you decide if an AMC is your best board relations solution:
Is your organization staffed by employees, or run by volunteers?
Salaried staff will be more likely to have the time and expertise to carry out board relations unassisted. This doesn’t eliminate the need for an AMC but means you should evaluate the staff’s needs and capacity.
How large is your association and how does that size affect your needs?
As budgets and capabilities increase, so does the need for professional assistance. It may come from staff, but many organizations find that when they have a full professional staff, they need that staff to focus on operations while others assist the board.
Does your staff have the necessary skills? If so, are those skills best used in operations?
Every nonprofit leader can be counted on for administrative skills and extensive knowledge of their organization. But board relations may actually distract from the best use of these skills. Even CEOs who are known for their organizational skills have an assistant who handles their calendar. Why? Because those organizational skills are best used on other tasks.
It follows that even your most able and knowledgeable staff may be less suited to board relations than to tasks related to the organization’s mission. This will be especially true in organizations with a direct customer service orientation, such as clinics, educational organizations, etc.
Consider that an AMC can free staff in other areas
Does your staff have great skills and processes for board relations? Wonderful! Remember that an AMC can help them do even more for your mission by helping in an area where they could use assistance. For example, could help from marketing experts at an AMC give your staff and board the freedom to focus elsewhere more effectively?
Could Your Association Organize Better Board Governance by Working With an AMC?
At V2, we’ve provided full service and outsourced services for national associations for many years and can deliver the resources and expertise that help you thrive. Get in touch with us today, and let’s see how we can improve your board governance together.